Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on the above date.

Present: Adele, Barbara, Harry, Jenny, JohnIan (chair).

Apologies: Gill, Karen, Kaz, Lesley, Michele, Pip.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.


Matters Arising

Ian welcomed our guest Barbara to the meeting, and we went round the table briefly introducing ourselves.

Ian asked Adele for progress on the Fish & Ships Festival. Adele confirmed it would go ahead, but its scope depended on funding, which was in jeopardy over the ongoing total reorganisation of local government in Yorkshire.

Members’ Readings

Adele — continued reading from her Covid diary from 1 December 2021. Revelations about Boris Johnson’s No. 10 staff party at a time when ordinary people are banned from even meeting up with their families. This story will run and run, eventually leading to Boris’s downfall. Adele is incensed over the government’s double-standards in this and all covid-related matters. The new Omicron variant is sweeping England, further stressing the medical services, although symptoms see mild for most sufferers. Scotland is now rated “blue” (few new cases reported). Nigeria has been put on the red list.
The booster jab is now being offered to anyone over 30. 20,000 people a day however are presenting themselves for a first dose. 4/5 in hospital with serious covid symptoms have not been vaccinated at all. The message is getting out.
Further revelation are appearing about Boris and colleagues totally flaunting the regulations. One has to ask: why now – a year after the event?

John — read the first chapter of his children’s adventure story set in Hayling Island, Portsmouth in the 1970s. Charlie loves exploring the wartime bunkers on the beach. He has a favourite bunker. He finds a buried whistle, cleans it up and blows it. The ground opens up and he plunges into the Otherworld.
The story won praise from the Group for its engaging prose, and provoked a lively round of discussion and fact-checking. John’s use of the term storm troopers was questioned, a pre-war paramilitary force that never saw wartime action.

Barbara —read the first chapter of her murder mystery. It is Gubbio, Italy in 1945. War has ended. Pavel has been demobbed and leaves the army camp to rendezvous with his sweetheart Raffaela. On the way he overhears a bitter altercation. Soon he find a fallen brooch, which he picks up as a gift for Raffaela. Shortly afterwards he comes across the dead body of a woman.
The scene moves to Market Pickwell, England in 1950. John, a Detective Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard, attends a funeral. In spite of being in a reserved occupation, he volunteered to fight, saw action and was wounded, with severe facial scars. He meets up with girlfriend Maud.

Harry — is 7 weeks into Swansea University’s project to study the application of lucid dreaming to the creative process of short-story writing. First fruits of the project is a short story: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. A child awakens from a nightmare and is comforted by her mother. Father takes her and her brothers on an expedition and they see a volcano erupt. It gradually becomes clear they are hominins living a wilderness existence. The girl is LucyAustralopithecus afarensis (3.2 mya), one of the oldest specimens in the human family.

Jenny — continued reading from her period novel in-progress based on the historical figure of Mary Eleanor Bowes, the heiress of a vast fortune from the Durham coalfields. The attractive and unscrupulous Andrew Stoney has arrived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Introduced to Miss Hannah Newton, a plain young lady from a wealthy family, he sets about wooing her.
But while taking a walk on his own by the riverside, a beautiful prostitute, Molly, offers her services free-of-charge. She takes Andrew home to a surprisingly clean dwelling in a slum. Molly’s story is an unusual one: she is from a good family fallen on hard times. At the age of 14 she was sold by her mother to Lord Preston and was kept by him until his death, following which she was evicted and had to set up in a hovel as a prostitute. She and Andrew find they have a lot in common, and become allies in their onslaught upon Newcastle high society.

Ian — read a further instalment from his unpublished children’s story The Last of the Time Cats. Dyspepsia, an ordinary little girl, lives with her close friend Spookie the Cat, who used to belong to Prof Schrodinger until he did a cruel experiment on her. She doesn’t go to school but Dyspepsia does – and is presently away on a school trip to Egypt. Spookie, at a loose end, discovers an Egyptian cat statue in a Sunderland junk shop. It takes batteries (AG13) and comes to life when Spookie puts some in, introducing itself as Puss purr-Miau, the Last of the Nine Cats of Eternity. His mission: to raid the future for advanced weaponry to save Egypt from a Persian invasion.
Meanwhile in Egypt, Dyspepsia passes up a visit to the Serapeum because she want to explore an ancient site she’s seen in Google Earth out in the Western Desert. That night she talks to Spookie by FaceTime about what she has discovered. Spookie recognises an archaic isotope separation plant. Puss purr-Miau turns out to be far from ignorant of the matter.

The meeting closed at 1:15 PM.